The Heritage Foundation

News Releases on Europe

April 20, 1999

April 20, 1999 | News Releases on Europe

Study Estimates How Many Ground Troops Would Be Needed in Kosovo

WASHINGTON, APRIL 20, 1999-As the debate swirls over sending ground troops to Kosovo, a new Heritage Foundation study estimates how many troops it would take, how much it would cost, and how many U.S. casualties would result to achieve various goals in the region.

The study by Heritage National Security Analyst James Anderson, a Marine Corps veteran and former professor at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va., offers estimates for six military options:

1) Destroy all Yugoslavia's military forces and occupy the entire country. Anderson says this would require 500,000 NATO troops, including 250,000 Americans. It would take six to eight months to field the force, but the mission would be open-ended. The U.S. cost would be $40 billion to $50 billion the first year, and the United States could suffer 15,000 to 20,000 casualties.

2) Seize and occupy Belgrade, Yugoslavia's capital. Anderson says this would require 150,000 to 200,000 NATO troops, including 75,000 to 100,000 Americans. It would take six months to field the force and one to two months to execute the mission. The U.S. cost would be $10 billion to $20 billion, and the United States could suffer 5,000 to 10,000 casualties.

3) Expel Yugoslavian forces from Kosovo. Anderson says this would require 50,000 to 70,000 NATO troops, including 20,000 to 30,000 Americans. It would take one to three months to field the force and four to six weeks to complete the mission. The U.S. cost would be $5 billion to $10 billion, and the United States could suffer 500 to 2,000 casualties.

4) Secure a "liberated zone" in southern Kosovo. Anderson says this would require 15,000 NATO troops, including 10,000 Americans. It would take four to six weeks to field the force and two to four weeks to execute the mission. The U.S. cost would be $5 billion, and the United States could suffer 500 casualties.

5) Arm, train and equip Kosovar resistance fighters operating from Albania. Anderson says this would require 10,000 NATO troops, including 5,000 Americans, for training and logistical support. It would take one month to field the force for this open-ended mission. The U.S. cost would be $1 billion to $2 billion per year and the risk of casualties limited.

6) Place peacekeeping forces in Kosovo after a peace settlement. This would require 30,000 to 40,000 NATO troops, including 8,000 to 10,000 Americans. It would take four to six weeks to field the force, and the mission would be open-ended. The U.S. cost would be $5 billion the first year and the risk to peacekeepers moderate.

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